Politologue intrigue in Kingmaker as Festival looms large

Vibrato Valtat and Sam Twiston-Davies lead Top Gamble and Paul Moloney over the last fence when winning the Kingmaker Novices' Steeplechase in 2015.

Vibrato Valtat and Sam Twiston-Davies lead Top Gamble and Paul Moloney over the last fence when winning the Kingmaker Novices' Steeplechase in 2015.

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The Grade 2 Betway Kingmaker Novices’ Chase is the highlight of Warwick’s Gentlemen’s and Kingmaker Chase Day on Saturday, as punters step up their search for clues to likely winners at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, writes David Hucker.

Just three runners lined up last year and, although this year’s contest also looks like having only a handful of runners, there are some classy individuals among them, headed by the Paul Nicholls pair of Politologue and Frodon.

Although beaten on his last run, Politologue had won his previous two starts and holds an entry in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Festival.

He could run at Kempton Park today (Friday) but, if lining up here, would be the one to beat, although Frodon would also be a leading contender if turning out again six days after his last success at Musselburgh.

Course winner Overtown Express and Starchitect look the pick of the others.

Warwick shares television coverage with Newbury and, as well as the big race, ITV4 will feature two others, starting with the olbg.com Mares’ Hurdle (Registered as the Warwick Mares Hurdle) (Listed Race) over two miles and five furlongs, due off at 2.05pm.

Nicholls could also hold the key here, having entered both Jessber’s Dream, runner-up to Flute Bowl in the race last year, and the consistent Lifeboat Mona, a winner of six of her nine races under Rules, including a National Hunt Flat Race over the course back in November 2014.

Jessber’s Dream was bought out of Harry Fry’s stable by Ditcheat Thoroughbreds in November and has yet to score for Nicholls after two races.

She is also entered at Exeter on Sunday, whereas this is the only entry of the week for Lifeboat Mona, who has seen her official rating climb to 144 after a three-length win in a similar race at Sandown Park last month.

Bloody Mary, six times a winner in France, made a successful British debut at Taunton before finishing third to Limini at last season’s Festival.

She missed an alternative engagement at Huntingdon yesterday but, if turning up at Warwick, looks the one to be on.

Also on television is the Warwick Castle Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles.

Class horse of the race is Vibrato Valtat, who beat Top Gamble in the Kingmaker Chase two years ago, although he has a big burden to carry with 11-12 as he reverts to handicap company.

Gates open at 11.30am, two hours before the first race, and there are a range of packages and private boxes available, starting from £95 per person.

Further information and ticket details can be found at www.warwickracecourse.co.uk